In 1878 Martin Buber was born. A hundred years later the Martin Buber House in Heppenheim became the headquarters of the ICCJ and has served as such for 40 years this year.
As a social philosopher Martin Buber remains one of the intellectual giants of the 20th century. His books have remained relevant throughout the years and are impossible to neglect when it comes to dialogue and relationality. Personally I am forever grateful for his book Der Weg des Menschen nach der chassidischen Lehre which opened up perspectives that were life changing for my teenage self.
The link between Martin Buber and the ICCJ is strong and in cooperation with the association Friends and Sponsors of the Martin Buber House we keep reminding our communities of his work.
A new year is approaching. We will see and become aware of new dimensions of events, exposing us to variations of what we have experienced earlier. There will be pain and suffering and there will be life and love. We will grow older and hopefully a little bit wiser and more certain of what constitutes our contribution to the world. What can dialogue between Jews and Christians contribute within a world where dystopian visions of the future are more common than hopeful ones?
First of all, religion in the sense of covenant and unity implies the meaning of faith as hope. Every religion has the function of creating trust with regard to the future. Faith, trust, hope and reliance are closely related and central to both a Christian and a Jewish understanding of life. The dialogue between Jews and Christians has an important contribution to make in today’s world, because this is certain: dialogue creates hope.
True, honest dialogue entails an openness to the other and respect for the other’s integrity. In dialogue we sometimes agree on not agreeing, since we want to learn about both ourselves and each other. In the ecumenical movement there is an expression for this: Unity in Diversity. Our effort should be to create a space around dialogue that is full of trust and thereby able to build and to sustain hope.
When Martin Buber in Ich und Du writes that "in the beginning was the relation" it can be seen as a foundation for what I just mentioned. Religion is closely connected to how man relates to himself, the other, creation, and God; to what has been and is to come.
On behalf of the ICCJ Executive Board, its General Secretary Anette Adelmann and the Staff at the Martin Buber House in Heppenheim I wish you all Shanah Tovah and Blessed High Holidays!